Prison director provides IPKO with prison updates

Prison director provides  IPKO with prison updates

A scene during the visit to the prison facilities.

PHILIPSBURG--Pointe Blanche Prison Director Steven Carty presented recent developments within the prison system in St. Maarten to attendees at the Inter-Parliamentary Kingdom Consultations IPKO on May 5.

Justice Minister Anna Richardson and support staff of the Ministry of Justice were also in attendance. The presentation delved into several topics, starting with a general background of the three detention facilities, being the Pointe Blanche Prison and House of Detention, HVB (“Huis van Bewaring”) Philipsburg police holding cells and the Miss Lalie Youth Detention and Rehabilitation Center.


IPKO delegates being updated on developments in the country’s prison system.

Carty went on to discuss the main bottlenecks currently experienced within the prison system. One of the main challenges at the Pointe Blanche prison particularly is the age of the current infrastructure. The physical state of the detention facilities worsened considerably due to the passage of catastrophic, category 5 Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017. The buildings, equipment and overall organisational capacity of the justice sector institutions were directly impacted by the hurricanes. This resulted in risks to public safety and security in St. Maarten. The virus SARS-CoV-2, which was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020, further hampered the operations at the prison as educational programs were halted, and the movement within the prison was kept at a minimum to prevent transmission. In addition, the limitations in financial, policy and human resources were discussed. There are quite some challenges that have been identified in terms of manpower and personnel, it was stated in a press release on Tuesday.

  Although there are clear challenges that the prison is faced with, there have been quite some positive developments over the past six months, it was stated in the release. Firstly, a permanent director with “renewed management team,” had been appointed and established, which has brought much stability and movement within the prison thus far. Aside from this team, upon the request of Minister Richardson, assistance has been provided by the Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations BZK.

  A prison programme team comprising two experts, those being a prison programme manager and a human resource (HR) manager, has been deployed from the Netherlands since December 2021, to assist in implementing the improvements needed within the prison system.

  Since then, a 2022 prison plan of approach has been drafted, from which great improvements have already been realised, it was stated in the release. Large renovations have already taken place at the prison, security systems are being repaired and installed, the inmate day-time programme has been improved whereby inmates participate in General Education Diploma (GED) classes and human resources matters such as the high levels of absenteeism are being tackled. The first group of prison officers has also officially started their refresher courses. Aside from the recent developments within the current prison, some information was also provided on the new prison construction developments.

  On May 6, IPKO’s day programme began with a visit to the prison facility. The IPKO delegations were given an opportunity to tour the Pointe Blanche Prison facility and become more familiar with the prison departments. Members of Parliament (MPs) and Richardson were welcomed by the prison management team and led up to the conference room for an introductory meeting. The tour included recreational areas such as the air spaces, the renovated gym and more.

  IPKO was held in St. Maarten during the week of May 3 to 6, and included participants from the Parliaments of St. Maarten, Aruba, Curaçao, and the Netherlands. The main goal of the consultations was to discuss topics of mutual interest such as current bottlenecks, proposals for improvement, recent developments per country, the country package and its measures, the proposal for the Caribbean Body for Reform and Development COHO, healthcare, the financial sector, economic reforms, education and more.

The Daily Herald

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